The Manawa Fire Board approved the purchase of a new fire truck at its Oct. 22 meeting.
The board agreed that the purchase will not exceed $550,000.
The new truck will replace the rescue unit and a tanker, according to Fire Chief Rob Rosenau. It could take up to a year to arrive.
The board also authorized Rosenau to put tanker #984 up for sale.
The Manawa Rural Fire Department recently responded to a false alarm at the Manawa Elementary School, Rosenau reported.
“Do we need to communicate with the school district what staff members need to do when the alarm goes off?” Beyer asked.
Rosenau announced he has been in contact with the Manawa School District concerning this. Also, the school district will be providing a zone map of each school building and checking to be sure alarms report to the district’s security system.
The board discussed sending fire call bills to the municipalities so the property owner can be billed for the service.
This procedure was in activated several years ago, but not continued, according to Jackie Beyer, who serves as clerk for the Fire Board and for the town of Little Wolf.
“The first few months (Little Wolf) got reports and I billed them,” she said. “We never got anything after that. It lasted a very short time.”
Board President Mary Eck asked if people paid these bills.
Beyer replied that firefighting services (less a deductible) are covered by most insurance companies.
Rosenau said he could include these billings in his monthly reports to each municipality.
It was noted that the municipalities kept any monies collected by the fire service billing, which is usually about $500 per call.
“It still comes down to the taxpayer thinking they are baing double charged,” Beyer said.
“I think we need to put a lot of thought into this,” Eck said.
The board agreed to revisit the issue at its next meeting.
Rosenau noted that six sets of firefighting gear need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $2,000 per set.
“They are only six years old and they are shot,” he said, noting the gear was damaged by exposure sunlight because there are too many windows in the fire station.
“Ultra violet light affects the gear and the trucks,” Rosenau said.
He suggested that the city of Manawa tint or eliminate some of the windows.
“Maybe we need a short-term fix and a long-term fix,” Eck said.
She agreed to provide a maintenance list to the city, including tinting the windows and replacing weather stripping on the doors.
Williams advised the board to negotiate an annual maintenance agreement for the Manawa Ambulance Service.
He noted there are several maintenance issues that need to be addressed.
“At least this first time, I think an agreement is the way to go,” he said.
Williams also recommended that the board consider increasing service charges in 2014.
Board members asked if Medicare was increasing its deductibles.
“Medicare is locking in the current system for one more year, and most companies tend to follow what Medicare approves,” Williams said. “It’s anticipated that (Medicare payments) will probably stay the same beyond that.”
He also discussed charging for non-transport calls.
“Most (other ambulance services) charge for a transport if supplies are used and if they touch the patient,” Williams said, noting he questioned if “touching the patient” should warrant a service charge.
“There are many times when the ambulance is called to the scene when the people involved didn’t call – like a car accident,” he explained.
Williams said there is money to be generated by charging for all types of calls. On the other side of the spectrum, he noted that the community pays taxes for the ambulance service and may not agree to more charges.
“Is the gain worth the pain?” he asked.
Williams recommended the board consider raising its rates for 2014 and revisit the non-transport charges at a later date.
Other matters that were discussed and also tabled until the November meeting included: Municipal Agreement, billing, policy and procedures, bylaws, and renewing agreement with Lifequest.